Reptiles of the Valley

The wilds of Africa are often associated with snakes and rightly so, but, unfortunately, usually for the wrong reasons. While most people are afraid of snakes, South Africa is well known amongst herpetologists and snake lovers for the interesting variety of species of which some are highly priced in the pet trade. Because of the potential pressure by the export trade on natural populations, the collecting, keeping, trading and export of snakes is strictly controlled.
In general they are timid creatures which will avoid confrontations except in self defence. Most species are actually harmless, graceful, elegant and some even pretty to beautiful, but it also can not be denied that a few do look nasty, some are very dangerous and may take on terrifying poses and behaviour patterns when they feel threatened. Thus one should never attempt handling or picking up snakes unless they are positively identified as being harmless. 


Snakes:






Common Brown Water Snake

Lycodonomorphus rufulus

Prefers rivers, streams, vleis and damp areas in grasslands, savanna. Constrictor that feeds on frogs, tadpoles, small fish and nestlings and rodents.

Brown House Snake

Lamprophis capensis

Found almost everywhere. Common around human dwellings. Feeds mainly on rodents and small vertebrates including lizards, bats, birds and frogs.

Cape Wolf Snake

Lycophidion capense

Lives in savanna and grassland. It is active at night when it hunts for lizards, especially skinks and geckos. It is fond of damp localities and is often found under stones, logs or piles of grass.

Common or Brown Slug Eater

Duberria lutrix

Mainly a grassland inhabitant and is also found in savanna. It preys on snails and slugs.

Mole Snake

Psuedopsis cana

Common in scrub-covered and grassland areas. Adults feed on rats, moles, gerbils and other small land mammals. It also feeds on birds, nestlings and eggs.

Olive Grass Snake or Olive Whip Snake

Psammophis mosambicus

An inhabitant of lowland forest and moist savanna. Often found in the vicinity of water. Feeds on lizards, small mammals, frogs, birds and snakes (including Black Mamba and Puff Adder).

Cape Centipede Eater or Black-headed Centipede Eater

Aparallactus capensis

Found in old termite mounds in lowland forest, savanna and grasslands. Feeds exclusively on Centipedes.

Natal Black Snake

Macrelaps microlepidotis

Found along streams beneath rotting logs, stones, leaf litter, animal burrows and in storm water drains.

Common Egg Eater

Dasypeltis scabra

Found in all habitats except true desert and closed-canopy forest. Feeds exclusively on birds eggs.

Southern Brown Egg Eater

Dasypeltis inornata

Found in lowland forest and moist savanna. Seeks refuge under rocks, or any other suitable hiding place. Active at night when it seeks birds nests and eggs.

Spotted Bush Snake or Variegated Bush Snake

Philothamus semivariegatus

Preferred habitats are river banks, shrubs, bushes, rocky regions, savanna and lowland forest. Feeds on lizards, especially geckos. Occasionally takes frogs but not toads.

Natal Green Snake

Philothamus natalensis

Habitat is savanna and grassland. Feeds on lizards and geckos.

Green Water Snake

Philothamus hoplogaster

Common in lowland forest and moist savanna. Prefers reed beds, riverine thickets. Feeds mainly on frogs but fish and small lizards are also taken.

Red-Lipped Herald

Crotaphopeltis hotamboei

Common in lowland forest and savanna. Shelters under rocks, rubble and in compost. Feeds on amphibians and lizards. It also eats small snakes.

Boomslang

Dispholidus typus

Found in a variety of habitats. Actively hunts chameleons, tree-living lizards, birds, nestlings, eggs and frogs.

Mozambique Spitting Cobra

Naja mossambica

Found mainly in moist savanna and lowland forest in hollow logs, termite mounds and animal holes. Preys on toads, small mammals, birds, lizards, insects and snakes. Also eats eggs.

Black Mamba

Dendroaspis polylepis

Found in termite mounds, hollow tree trunks, deserted aardvark or porcupine burrows, rock crevices and granite hillocks. Actively hunts rodents, dassies, and other suitably sized mammals, birds and other snakes. Prefer warm-blooded prey.

Rhombic Night Adder

Causus rhombeatus

Favours damp environments in moist savanna where it seeks refuge in old termite mounds, under logs and large flat stones. Feeds almost exclusively on toads and frogs. Hatchlings feed on tadpoles.

Puff Adder

Bitis arietans

Occurs throughout South Africa in all habitats. Ambushes rats and mice and other small mammals. Also feeds on birds, lizards, toads and occasionally, snakes.

Southern African Python (aka, African Rock Python)

Python natalensis

Fairly widespread, preferring rocky outcrops in moist savanna. Diet includes, dassies, cane rats, hares, monkeys, small antelope and game birds. It may also take fish, monitor lizards and crocodiles.


Lizards:






Cape Skink

Mabuya capensis


Variable Skink

Mabuya varia


Striped Skink

Mabuya striata complex


Wahlberg's Snake-Eyed Skink

Panaspis wahlbergii


Rock Monitor

Varanus albigularis


Flap-Necked Chameleon

Chamaeleo dilepis


Tropical House Gecko

Hemidactylus mabouia


Spotted Thick-Toed Gecko

Pachydactylus maculates


Southern Tree Agama

Acanthocercus atricollis


Natal Midlands Dwarf Chameleon

Bradypodion thamnobates





Marsh Terrapin

Pelomedusa subrufa


Natal Hinged Tortoise

Kinixys Natalensis